A recently published book group favorite, The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro, takes a literary look at a 23-year-old crime and, since it’s fiction, takes the initiative to solve the crime. The book also tells the story of Claire, a young painter who makes a foolish error early in her career that effectively tanks it. Instead of holding shows in galleries, Claire struggles to pay the bills by painting reproductions of masters. One day a well known art dealer, Aiden, visits Claire with a painting believed to be stolen in the great Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist. He wants her to paint a perfect replica, then he will return the painting, Claire gets a one woman show of her original work, and everyone is satisfied. As Claire begins to work on her reproduction, she begins to suspect the original may actually be a fake and in order to prove it, she begins doing research on the Gardner Museum, it’s holdings, and Isabella Gardner herself.
Pair this compelling artistic thriller with a nonfiction account of the theft, The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser. The author inherited the case files from Harold Smith, the art detective who devoted his life to solving the theft. As this 2008 book concludes, Boser has theories about the crime, but only that.
Readers will enjoy discussing a real life mystery and sifting through the clues along with the authors and detectives.